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Between Writing and Image

A Scriptwriter's Way of Working

Benoît Peeters

This article concerns the way in which a comics scriptwriter works collaboratively with different artists. It traces the development of a working method with François Schuiten, the artist of the Cités obscures ['Cities of the Fantastic'] series, and the extension of the series itself beyond the two-dimensional page into other formats. The constant exchange between artist and scriptwriter is stressed: each is involved in the conception of both the plotline and the visual aspects of the work. Hergé is cited as an example of an artist whose ease in conjuring images out of words and ideas from images may be termed 'graphic thinking'. It is noted, however, that the tendency of publishing houses to favour scriptwriters who predetermine the course of the album limits such inventiveness. The open-endedness that, in ideal conditions, characterises the work of the comics scriptwriter, and the thoroughgoing nature of the collaboration, is compared with the more rigid, and limited, role assigned to a film scriptwriter. A more flexible and creative process is not impossible to achieve in cinema, but it is concluded that this is rare, and that it is the comics medium that affords the greater degree of freedom and independence.

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Jonathan Parry

This piece tells the story of a disturbing episode in the author's relationship with the field. Though the details are unique, the kind of ethical dilemmas it documents must be in some form or other part of the experience of a great many anthropologists – though such stories are seldom set down in print. These dilemmas include the balance we strike between participation and observation, and between the moral commitments we have as private individuals and our (no less moral) commitment as anthropologists to report on our ethnography in as impartial and objective a way as is possible. Central to this particular story is the anthropologist's relationship with his research assistant over more than two decades, and it tells of the latter's involvement in various human rights campaigns, his arrest, imprisonment and on-going trial on vaguely specified charges. I reflect on the way in which these events have affected my subsequent fieldwork and on the way I have written up. It is the story of a friendship and of a genuine intellectual collaboration between the anthropologist and anthropologist's research assistant that is probably not so uncommon but is seldom fully reflected in the ethnographies we read.

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Global privatized power

Heritage politics and private military contractors in Iraq

Maria Theresia Starzmann

The practice of archaeologists and other heritage specialists to embed with the US military in Iraq has received critical attention from anthropologists. Scholars have highlighted the dire consequences of such a partnership for cultural heritage protection by invoking the imperialist dimension of archaeological knowledge production. While critical of state power and increasingly of militarized para-state actors like the self-proclaimed Islamic State, these accounts typically eclipse other forms of collaboration with non-state organizations, such as private military and security companies (PMSCs). Focusing on the central role of private contractors in the context of heritage missions in Iraq since 2003, I demonstrate that the war economy's exploitative regime in regions marked by violent conflict is intensified by the growth of the military-industrial complex on a global scale. Drawing on data from interviews conducted with archaeologists working in the Middle East, it becomes clear how archaeology and heritage work prop up the coloniality of power by tying cultural to economic forms of control.

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Contested Representations

Exploring China’s State Report

Halme-Tuomisaari and Miia

As states become parties to international human rights treaties, they undertake the obligation to provide periodic state reports to UN human rights treaty bodies. Officially, state reports are paramount vehicles of factual information of a given state’s human rights situation. Unofficially their status may be contested and their data reduced to state propaganda. This article examines this transformation through the submission of China’s first state report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The article shows how human rights documents of diverse genres join together in a continual ceremony of dialogue. It connects minute details of treaty body proceedings to more general developments in the international human rights field, and argues that beneath the veneer of diplomatic conduct accompanying human rights dialogue lays an intense struggle for representation and legitimacy. It further discusses how this struggle reflects the recent rise of Kantian theories of international law. These theories seek to re-evaluate the foundational concept of international law, namely ‘sovereign equality’, and, thus continue the mission civilisatrice that has characterized elements of international collaboration for centuries.

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Christian Promitzer

This article engages with the commonly encountered claim that Bulgarian physical anthropology "features a long, fruitful, and honorable existence," by discussing Bulgarian anthropology's contribution to the controversial issue of ethnogenesis. With the Russian influence waning from the mid-1880s on, the pioneers of Bulgarian anthropology were largely influenced by the German example. But the first generation of Bulgarian anthropologists' tradition of "racial liberalism" (Benoit Massin) was lost after World War I. On the eve of World War II a debate on racism raged among Bulgarian intellectuals. By the time blood group analysis had joined anthropometrics, adherents of a closer collaboration with the Third Reich used it to argue for the Bulgarian nation's non-Slavic origins. In 1938 they even disrupted a lecture given by the biologist Metodiy Popov when he wanted to stress the Bulgarians' ethnic relationship with the other Slavic nations, and to repudiate the idea of a hierarchy of races. During the Socialist period a new generation of anthropologists went on to investigate the Bulgarian ethnogenesis using the term "race", although this clearly contravened the 1950 UNESCO statement on the race question.

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pARTiCI[TY]pate?!

Negotiating the City at the Intersection of Art, Research and Urban Politics

Judith Laister and Anna Lipphardt

Over the past decades, ‘participation’ has evolved as a key concept in a multitude of practice fields and discursive arenas, ranging from diverse political and economic contexts, through academic research, education and social work, urban planning and design, to arts institutions and artistic projects. While participation originally is a political concept and practice, it has long set out as a ‘travelling concept’ (Bal 2002). This special issue focuses on its travels between three fields of practice: the city, the arts and qualitative empirical research. Each of these practice fields over the past decades has yielded distinct understandings, objectives and methods in respect to participations, yet they also increasingly intersect, overlap and fuse with each other within specific practice contexts. What is more, many of the individual actors engaging in these initiatives on behalf of the city – from temporary projects to long-term collaborations – are not situated in one practice field only. Along with Jana König and Elisabeth Scheffel we understand them as ‘double agents’ (König and Scheffel 2013: 272–3) or even ‘multiple agents’, with simultaneous entanglements and commitments in more than one practice field.

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Extended Sites of Action

In and Out of Marginality

Narmala Halstead

The forum in this issue, reflecting on the problematics of the relationship between anthropology and law, as a timely focus is also indicative of how these debates revolve around disciplinary and cross-disciplinary issues. That such co-presence of anthropology and law, incorporating research in informal and formal settings, various kinds of collaboration and, in some instances, sceptical views about its value, continues to merit close attention also signals how views of differences animate a well-populated and extended field. The concerns are often articulated around an epistemic divide between anthropology and law, and allow for questioning both within and across disciplinary areas, even as much is made of the richness of an ethnographic approach to law alongside other methods and analyses, as indicated. Lawrence Rosen, in his response to the commentators in the forum, notes ‘our special area of interest is actually a great doorway into many key issues for both disciplines’, as he identifies the spaces where it is incumbent for anthropologists to act to address these cross-disciplinary challenges.

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Michael G. Peletz

Jeremy Kingsley and Kari Telle’s provocation article raises several important issues. The thrust of their argument as I understand it is that anthropology does not matter much to the field of law in many parts of the world. They are quick to point out, however, that this is a relative point and that their comparative frame takes as its point of departure the much greater degree of intellectual engagement that obtains between schools of medicine and public health on the one hand and the field of anthropology on the other. I concur with their overall argument but will phrase it in slightly different terms: despite the robust collaborations that sometimes involve legal scholars and anthropologists (e.g. in legal clinics at New York University and elsewhere; see Merry, this issue), faculty in law schools are much less likely to embrace the work of anthropologists than are their colleagues who specialise in medicine and public health. In this brief comment, I offer tentative hypotheses as to why this situation exists in the North American context. I approach the relevant issues from a historical perspective, focusing on hierarchies of legitimacy and prestige, shifts in both academia and the job market for anthropologists, and the rise of neoliberal doctrines in academia and beyond.

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Les emprunts de Mauss à la bibliothèque universitaire de Bordeaux

la genèse d’une « imagination sociologique »

Nicolas Sembel

Mauss was a student at Bordeaux between 1890 and 1895, and this discussion of his university library loans directly complements an earlier article on those of Durkheim, who taught there from 1897 to 1902. Mauss worked hand in glove with his uncle, and although the profiles of their library use were quite different, all the material borrowed by Mauss was closely related with material amongst Durkheim’s loans. Archival evidence brings out how Mauss prepared for the agrégation in philosophy in a way that went well beyond the examination itself, indeed, that in effect transcended philosophy, and that included a year at the Sorbonne that was crucial for the future. If Durkheim showed a methodological imagination – drawing on a variety of disciplines, albeit largely through a ‘hidden’ reading of uncited references – in order to elaborate a sociological approach for his time, Mauss showed a sociological imagination in an effort, in parallel with his academic commitments, to develop his uncle’s work straightaway. Their close collaboration with one another during this period is a platform for reconsidering the nature, up to 1914, of the intellectual link between Mauss and Durkheim, as two sociologists who were above all separated by a ‘chronological’ gap, who occupied two different positions that, while helping to explain disagreement, made possible their project of disciplinary ‘conquest’ begun at Bordeaux, and who, lastly, produced the same general sociology based on two related approaches. My conclusion returns to their Bordeaux ‘moment’ and the veritable symbolic blitzkrieg they conducted there.

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Une hypothèse sur l’arrivée de Durkheim à Bordeaux

les « requêtes durkheimiennes » d’Hamelin (mars–avril 1887)

Nicolas Sembel

Le propos de cette note de recherche est d’éclairer un peu plus l’origine de l’arrivée de Durkheim à Bordeaux lors de sa nomination sur un poste universitaire en 1887. Promulgué par arrêté le 20 juillet 1887, effectif lors de la rentrée suivante d’octobre, ce poste de philosophie est centré sur l’éducation (« science sociale et pédagogie ») et constitue un résumé à lui seul de la complexité administrative de l’enseignement supérieur (Gautherin 2002, Callède 2011). Il sera renouvelé annuellement sept fois, puis « sans limite » à partir de juillet 1894. Durkheim, parti en 1902 à Paris pour suppléer F. Buisson (devenu député) pendant 4 ans, jusqu’en 1906, sera remplacé par Gaston Richard également pendant 4 ans. Leur double titularisation aura lieu cette année-là. En 1930, à la retraite anticipée d’un an de Richard, il est destiné à Théodore Ruyssen, âgé de plus de 60 ans, qui ne l’occupe finalement pas, et est attribué, via le Doyen, par des disciples de Durkheim (Davy, Mauss...) et de Hamelin (Darbon, Daudin...) un peu démunis, à Max Bonnafous. Ce dernier se consacre assez vite à sa carrière politique (commencée dans le socialisme et terminée dans la Collaboration), prenant à nouveau de court les gate-keepers du poste. Passeront également par ce poste de Bordeaux Georges Gurvitch, lui aussi rapidement parti, ou Raymond Aron, encore plus rapidement, après six mois.